Renowned for creating photographs that compress the architectural jumble of the American landscape into tight, sometimes ironic, compositions, Stephen Shore has long been absorbed with questions of structure. With his essay "Form and Pressure" in this issue, Shore examines the dependent relationships among preconception, content, and formal iteration, not only in terms of his own photographs but also as these notions apply to other fields, from painting to theater to science.
VINCE ALETTI reviews photography exhibitions for the "Goings on About Town" section of the New Yorker and photography books for Photograph. One of the curators of the International Center of Photography's 2009 "Year of Fashion," including the exhibitions Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000 and Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now, he returned to ICP for the 2011 exhibition Harper's Bazaar: A Decade in Style.
The notion that the pursuit to encapsulate and convey objective "truth" via documentation—in particular through text, image, or a combination of the two—is inevitably contrived and doomed to failure is certainly not a new one. In 1936 James Agee and Walker Evans received an assignment from Fortune magazine to investigate conditions among sharecropping communities in the American South by reporting on the life of one family.
Contemporary photographic practice in South Africa seems to bear the weight of the world on its shoulders. Entrenched in a history of ethnographic colonial classification, photojournalistic reportage of atrocities under apartheid, and recently sophisticated documentary work, the field of image making is unavoidably politicized—its objective, to show and to tell.
The insistent question "Where is Ai Weiwei?" was ubiquitous during the Chinese artist's recent disappearance and detention. Yet behind this question, urgent as it was, hovered another query: Who exactly is Ai Weiwei, the artist that the Chinese government considers so dangerous?
When Communism falls, or even wavers, artists seize the luxuries of criticism—thinly veiled by parody and pastiche—and rebellious subject matter. Meanwhile, capitalism and its discontents rush in. In Eastern Europe and Russia, after the Wall fell in 1989, and in China after Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms of the early 1990s, visual arts cudgeled previous regimes and flaunted nudity.
Slightly eclipsing a strong installment (despite severe budget cuts) of the annual PhotoEspaña festival, was an exhibition at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid focusing on workers' photography during the years between the World Wars.
Every year, Black Friday rings in the yearly holiday shopping season in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of people getting up before sunrise to line up for deals; as soon as the stores unlock their doors, they are besieged by customers.
These images are from a work in progress titled Settlers, which I began in 2008. By "settlers," I refer to Israeli Jewish immigrants currently living in the area they call "Judea and Samaria," but which is more commonly referred to as the West Bank.
Photographer David Goldblatt and writer Ivan Vladislavić recently published a remarkable collaborative project, TJ/Double Negative (Umuzi, 2010), a volume of photographs and a novel, packaged handsomely together in a paper slipcase.
I made this photograph at the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles on July 21, 1975. I was at the start of a commission from the great architect Robert Venturi, to explore the contemporary American landscape. I was drawn to this scene because it seemed to be such a quintessential Los Angeles experience: the gas stations, the jumble, the signage, the space.
Hummingbirds appear before dawn, a whirring and darting at the feeders. Black silhouettes maneuver in the faint gray. The great blue heron alights on the power pole, the sun slips over the mountain. Delphiniums begin to glow with faint lavender and intense blues.
Each image in Swedish photographer Julia Peirone's recent series More Than Violet is the result of culling through hundreds of exposures made during a session with a female teenage model. Instead of seeking an ideal of teenage beauty, in her editing process Peirone seeks out the most vulnerable movements and expressions that, taken together, reveal a lexicon of gesture specific to this moment between childhood and womanhood.
Sam Falls's eclectic output includes writing, photography, painting, videos, collaborative curatorial efforts, and extraordinarily prolific bookmaking. (He has produced and self-published ten books in small editions of fifty to five hundred copies; in the second half of 2011 alone, he has released three new volumes with independent publishers.) His books frequently serve to contain and unify the diversity of his production.
Although the subject of Richard Press's 2010 film Bill Cunningham New York is rarely off the screen, he remains tantalizingly elusive. Cunningham, the photographer whose weekly "On the Street" feature for the New York Times has made him a legend and a cult figure in fashion circles, says he prefers to work "discreetly and quietly.
Monday, April 18, 2011 Mary Ellen, I have to tell you how much respect I have for you as a photographer and artist. I honestly didn't know who you were or anything about this picture until one day I decided to look myself up on Google and see what would come up.
LE CORBUSIER & LUCIEN HERVÉ: A DIALOGUE BETWEEN ARCHITECT AND PHOTOGRAPHER
Hervé was by no means the first photographer to work for Le Corbusier.... An amateur photographer himself (at least in the early years), a compulsive user of images of diverse origins and kinds to illustrate his theoretical contributions to the period between the two world wars, Le Corbusier was a member of that generation of artists and thinkers who became increasingly aware, particularly during the 1920s, of the important influence of mechanical reproduction processes on the perception and definition of works of art, most notably in the plastic realm of three-dimensional works....
Although digital media are beginning to change this, a photobook is the closest still photography gets to the film—a thought which seems pertinent in relation to Elin Høyland's poignant photoessay, The Brothers.... Høyland also taps into another aspect of contemporary photographic practice, one in which Scandinavian photographers have been prominent.
Elfie Semotan: FROM LOUISE BOURGEOIS TO JEFF WALL: PORTRAITS & STUDIO STILLS
Since the first use of photographic techniques, around the mid-19th century, the genre of "artist photography" has been one of the fields of application for the new technology. The way thinkers, inventors, scientists and writers blended in with the given canon of bourgeois portrait photography is surprising and only understandable in the context of the new, heightened social standing of the art profession within the intellectual life of this era of change....
DEBORAH LUSTER'S: TOOTH FOR AN EYE: A CHOROGRAPHY OF VIOLENCE IN ORLEANS PARISH
Violence and loss have been consistent themes in Deborah Luster's photographic practice since she began working with a camera in 1988, after her mother was shot to death by a hired killer. Acknowledging the murder as a key motivating factor, Luster has said: "When you've experienced a loss in your life, you keep telling the story over and over.
NEIL LABUTE ON RUTH ORKIN'S AN AMERICAN GIRL IN ITALY, 1951
Neil La Bute
Look at her face. You've probably seen Ruth Orkin's seminal photograph a dozen or more times in your life, but have you stopped to really look at the young woman's face in the picture? Study the silent anguish etched on her features as she clutches her bag and sketchpad in one hand and pulls her sweater around herself in vain while walking the human gauntlet before her.